The one year anniversary of my debt being paid off is swiftly approaching. Which is both mind-boggling and wonderful all at the same time. I feel like I should have written this a year ago, but maybe it wasn’t time. Maybe I wasn’t ready to say it. Maybe I just needed to decompress.
It all started before I had my oldest son. He’s officially a decade old, and it’s strange to me that it started before him – but it did. In January of 2000, I got pregnant for the very first time. I was about 2 weeks late, and though I was nervous, I took the test. It instantly gave me the double line, so pregnant, I was. The very next day, I lost the baby.
That’s what I was. I barely had time to get used to the idea of the baby, and it was gone. We’d been married five years, and it was time. But if I’d just waited one more day to take that test, I would have never known. That was hard.
Four months later, it happened again.
It hurt. A lot. And though this seems odd, because I really usually say what’s on my mind (even if it’s inappropriate), I shut down. Held it all in.
Exactly two years of hard praying later, I found myself pregnant again. I was terrified to tell anyone – including my husband.
To my shock and joy, it was all fine. The pregnancy was totally normal. No morning sickness. The baby was active. We were both healthy, and he was born exactly on time.
I was ecstatic. Loved him and being a mom.
Until he was 10 months old. And I found myself pregnant again.
I loved my boy, but I didn’t see how I could love another child as much.
And I was sick. Really really really sick with this one.
But when she arrived, I found my heart just grew. I didn’t have to make room. My heart grew in proportion.
Until she was a year old. And I found myself pregnant again.
And then I lost the baby.
And I cried some more because I cried to start with.
And then, a month later, I got pregnant AGAIN.
Once again, perfect pregnancy + perfect baby.
But three kids (four pregnancies) in four years takes it toll. I found myself a stay-at-home mom with two kids in diapers. I literally was nursing and/or pregnant for five solid years.
I lost myself.
And the only thing that seemed to help was shopping. Buying new things made me feel better.
It sounds so ridiculous. So insanely ridiculous. But it was what it was.
I found myself in a teensy bit of debt from my spending habit, and decided I had to make some quick dough to pay that off. I felt that my husband wouldn’t understand, and he’d just make me feel dumb, so I decided to deal with it myself (to clarify – this was not accurate, just a story I told myself).
I started substitute teaching – but the cost of childcare for three children made that income virtually nil – so I stopped. I had to find something that would allow me to work from home and be with the kids.
My first thing was Mystery Shopping. Which was fun. I made a decent amount of money doing this and got a lot of free meals out of it – but I had zero restraint. If I had $10 to spend somewhere, I would spend $50.
As you can imagine – this just added to the debt. I went from a couple of thousand bucks on my credit card to $20k in no time.
This went on and on and on – and at the peak of it all, I was… (you might want to sit down for this one…)
$64,000 in debt.
That’s right. $64k.
Don’t ask what I spent it on, because the fact is, I have no idea. There was no Lexus in the garage, or any large ticket item to point at. It was just stuff. Stuff that I didn’t want, need or use. Sixty-four thousand dollars of nothing.
This is when I turned to Craigslist. (I promise – it wasn’t creepy yet). I found my first client who gave me a shot as a Virtual Assistant. I’d been an actual assistant before I had kids, and I convinced him I could handle it. After the first two years, I found more clients, and before I knew it, I was down to $48k. That’s when my husband found out.
I’ve talked about this before – and why I didn’t tell my husband here.
I’ve also talked about what I did to hustle my a$$ and get the debt paid off here.
But this post is more about the WHY and the HOW.
I wish I knew why. I wish I knew how.
I guess I was just lost. I guess I just needed more.
I hate saying it – but I did not love just being a mom. I needed more. I needed to be a mom with a purpose.
And for a very long time, my purpose was to pay off my debt.
It took six years, seven laptops, at least a hundred clients, and a lot of late nights.
But it’s gone now. And, I felt a little lost without it.
I’ve spent the last year trying to find that sweet spot again – trying to find a balance between work and downtime. I love what I do, so downtime was hard. It’s hard not to run to the laptop to hide behind work when things are rough, or slow.
I’m ready now. My new purpose is to make beautiful websites for women who are chasing their purpose. (I want to say people – but women is more accurate).
And to travel. A lot.
It was a long hard decade. That’s for sure. But, through all of that, No Regrets. None whatsoever.